No-Star Hotels Have Their Own Special Charm

Accidental Families?
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Instant Family
I don't remember if there was much to do in Valdivia, Chile, but I spent a week at a well-hidden guesthouse ($8) in town, and I didn't want to leave. The family that ran the tiny hostel treated their few visitors like long-lost relatives. They cooked every meal for us, sang songs each evening (mostly Beatles hits), and escorted us to the various bars, where they bought us beer. I'm sure they spent more money on us than we paid for the room. And I hope they're still in business.

Accidental Comic
At a small pension in Stockholm, Sweden ($14), it was hard to miss Paul, the 40-year-old summer caretaker.

"I'm Paul from Poland. Easy to remember, no?" he said when I first entered. He was always around, always had something to say, and would pop into your room unexpectedly to tell you whatever was on his mind.

"I am fine. I am always fine, even when I am not fine," Paul told me one morning when I asked how he was doing. I can't remember what my room was like, just that Paul was always in it. He was aggravatingly friendly, and everything that came out of his mouth, whether intentional or not, had a comic ring to it.

Paul may not be around for long, though. He claimed he was moving to Palm Springs to become a movie star. Of course!

Follow acclaimed travel writer and out-there humorist Doug Lansky as he continues his Vagabond Adventures.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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